|From: The Sunday Guardian|
It is over a year since the post “India’s worst journalists” was made here but it continues to remain a popular one. Some of the names from that post have dropped off the journalistic depths they once occupied and aren’t as active lately – Vir Sanghvi, Suzy Roy, Prannoy Roy. However, where TV is concerned, there are five who have made sure nobody uproots them from their thrones in the dungeons of journalism. ‘Hello Arnab, you know me, now meet my lawyer please’! Isn’t that nice? Now what else would Arnab want for his Kangaroo court? That’s from my post in August 2011 titled “Sanjiv Bhatt In Arnab's Kangaroo Court”. Yes, on August 9, 2011 one had the rare spectacle of an accused coming to Arnab’s show with his lawyer. That’s when I nicknamed him ‘Justice Arnab’ on Twitter. He seems to wear that title well which has also found wide acceptance as can be seen from the image in this post. Although not much has changed in the list of India’s worst journalists, it is for the first time that a regular web magazine The Sunday Guardian (Dec 18) has taken a humorous look at the comic five and their screeching contests. (I will quote Nandini Krishnan’s article “Give me a break from screeching anchors” in SG generously in this post). Krishnan has also coined an interesting term; FASS (Fellow Armchair Solution Specialist) which quite describes the TV lot. Of course, I don’t consider the worst five journalists anymore, they are celebs and collectively they are India’s worst media celebs. Hard to place them in any particular order so we’ll just go alphabetically.
1. Arnab Goswami – He is undoubtedly the only one who has broken all barriers of sound. His penchant for throwing an unending number of questions, most of which don’t have any answer could have made him a better quiz master. At other times I picture him as a referee at a Baseball game who keeps screaming “strike one, strike two…” and the poor panellist is mostly ‘Out’. He remains the only one who still demands answers from everyone – from politicians, ordinary citizens and even from the nation collectively. His favourite game with panellists is one called “butt and rebut”! That’s a shift from the earlier version which he fondly called “Versus”. I have never quite understood what versus was supposed to mean unless it is ‘Arnab versus everyone else’. It is probable that Arnab is in a permanent contest with his former poor cousins from NDTV and has to out-do them in every which way. To his credit he is not as biased and predictable and with some refresher courses could still make it to a TV journalist from the celebrity he’s become.
2. Barkha Dutt – The man of the moment or even man of the year, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, once described her.. “As for Barkha Dutt, she's been indiscreet and doing foolish things”. Well, she hasn’t exactly stopped doing those things. She is Phil Donahue, Larry King and Christiane Amanpour all rolled into one. And that’s a bad concoction! Two of those are now retired from their regular shows. It is unlikely the taint of Radiagate will escape her. And true to her arrogance she has neither apologised nor expressed any form of regret. From self-righteous anger to calling dissenters as ‘trolls’ if there is one celeb who prefers monopoly on the freedom of screech she has to be it. Lately she has added another aspect to her persona – she frequently smiles and guffaws on her shows. This is probably on the advice of some image improvement professional. And believe it or not, she is the only news celeb that has credit titles that has a “Barkha’s wardrobe by….”. That’s a unique first for an Indian news celeb. I have to wonder who the Sunday Guardian was referring to with this statement: “She sabotages all effort at surprise attacks by landing up in strategic locations during sensitive operations, and making sure everyone knows she has….Don't forget The Great Defence of Lobbying With a Lobbyist. I was doing a Mata Hari, people, come on! Anyway, Bollywood loves her enough to give all its reporters short hair."
3. Karan Thapar – In an update to my post India’s worst journalists I had mentioned that maybe he has sobered a bit and conducts interviews with more professionalism. His two recent interviews with Kapil Sibal and Arun Jaitley are ample evidences of his own motives. To Sibal he asks if the NYT, which exposed Sibal’s censorship plans, had any motives. With Arun Jaitley he directly accuses his party of obstructing parliament rather than asking a question. Gritting his teeth and growling like a wolf is back as his signature style of interviewing. Well, he still remains the rich man’s Tim Sebastian. The Sunday Guardian is spot on with this comment: "But all of them together still wouldn't be half as annoying as our own Tim Sebastian. His show ought to be called 'Are You Sayin?', with the nasal twang. I think he uses some technique involving high-frequency vocal emanations to make his guests' hair stand on end when he interrupts. He's comfy as long as they cower and cry, but give him someone articulate like Jayalalithaa or Benazir... and he writes a long defence of the interview in the next day's paper."
4. Rajdeep Sardesai – Along with NDTV, Rajdeep’s channel can be credited with creating the most spurious awards by news channels. The Indian of the year award is his greatest journalistic achievement as Managing Editor of CNN-IBN. Two things make him famous – one is Old Monk and the other is his regular ‘good-night’ 'kiss' on Twitter. The only problem is he doesn’t stop at good night. And when he finds time for journalistic pursuits he spends most of it talking cricket or finding people who can trash Narendra Modi. Like Barkha’s Radiagate, Rajdeep will never escape the taint of Cash4Votes during his lifetime as a media celeb. He is also known for protecting India’s first family from any question or attacks and his greatest journalistic achievement for the year has to be going to Ramlila and having a picture taken with Anna Hazare. Rajdeep also has to be the most philosophic media celebs around. When he’s not busy talking to cricketers he dishes out sermons through his blog or through twitter. His journalistic epitaph has already been written with his own favourite phrase “Hammam mein sab nange hain”. And his happiness is complete when he finds someone like Sanjiv Bhatt to call Narendra Modi a “common criminal” on his channel which will be played over and over again. As the SG article states: “One pities his co-anchor. She's so soft-spoken and mellow, you can see her flinch every time he yells. You can also see her dabbing her cheek after a particularly emotional outburst. Beware the rain of spittle."
5. Sagarika Ghose – I cannot confirm but can ask if the SG article was referring to her by this hilarious statement: “FASS shudders! Freedom of speech reminds him of a print journalist we've loathed ever since she wrote an article about Indian men and orgasms. After she moved to TV, her hair's got shorter and her diatribes longer," he mutters. See, she wants to be Oprah, I explain, Sadly, there aren't enough fat people who feel bad about themselves, enough closet gay people in the entertainment industry, or enough couples who want to discuss their crumbling marriages on TV in this country. So, all she can do is wear sleeveless society blouses and pastel saris and milk bereaved parents for tears”. The title I blessed Sagarika with – ‘Cacofonix’ still stands unchallenged. To that she has added an extra-ordinary accomplishment. Her debate on whether spiritual gurus should engage in politics is the most horrendous fraud perpetrated on viewers this year. On being exposed she then went on to claim that the Twitterati and others shouldn’t harass her because she was a woman. The post ‘Sack Sagarika’ explains why she should not have been on TV at all in the first place. She can still go back go to writing soft porn stuff while opportunities still abound.
The PCI chairman, Justice Katju, has been extremely critical of journalists for their lack of intellect and wide knowledge of topics. Subramanian Swamy describes them even better: “ I know from personal experience that journalists do a lot of hack jobs. If wanted, they character assassinate you at the behest of the ruling party. In my case, the media cannot say anything except that I'm a troublemaker, which doesn't sell very well. They don't publish anything I say unless it becomes impossible like now…They've been doing it systematically. When elections take place, many journalists come and ask for money, saying they'll give favourable coverage in return”. Well, some state elections are around the corner. The infamous five will come out with all kinds of opinion polls and needless to mention, it will be bonanza in terms of the moolah for the channels of the comic five and, of course, their freedom of screech will cross new levels for sure.